This hiking trail treks to double waterfalls at High Shoals, dropping through beautiful forest to visit a massive, 50+ foot waterfall cascade, one of the largest in North Georgia.
Waterfalls are one of the top hiking destinations in North Georgia. And for good reason: rivers and creeks drop in gorgeous cascades over sheer rock formations throughout the state, tumbling beautifully to pools of blue water below. One of the largest and most impressive falls in North Georgia, High Shoal Falls is easily accessed along a well-maintained hiking trail to the falls. This 2.7 mile hike, located just north of Helen, Georgia, travels to two waterfalls over its 2.7 mile length: Blue Hole Falls, a smaller, upper waterfall, and the massive cascades of the 50+ foot High Shoal Falls.
Depart the trailhead along Georgia Forest Road 283, descending along the hiking trail through a predominantly deciduous forest towards High Shoals Creek. Note several large circumference, towering old growth trees along the sides of the trail as you hike downward into the creek valley. The trail begins to meander along several wide switchbacks as it drops elevation, meeting the banks of High Shoals Creek at .55 miles.
Cross the wooden bridge here at High Shoals Creek, passing several campsites on the sides of the trail. Rhododendron – a common sight along creek valleys in Northern Georgia – grows dense along the trail as it winds along the creek, beginning a descent towards the first waterfall. Turn left on the side trail at 1 mile to hike down to Blue Hole Falls, the first (and smaller) of the two waterfalls on this stretch of High Shoals Creek. Moss and fern glow a vibrant green, contrasting with the iron-rich, red soil and rock lining the trail as the elevation drops into the creek valley.
Blue Hole Falls is aptly named for the cool, deep blue pool that catches its cascading waters below. Admire the waterfall from the wooden viewing platform, watching High Shoals Creek plummet over 20 feet across a face of sheer rock.
Retrace your steps to the main trail, turning left off the Blue Hole Falls side trail at the trail junction, to continue your hike to the second and larger waterfall along this trail. Turn left at 1.25 miles on the access trail to High Shoals Falls, descend to the second falls on a series of switchbacks and crafted stepping stones lining the trail. The roaring sound of falling water amplifies through the valley as you hike towards the waterfall.
The tree canopy lining the trail opens up to review the majestic waterfall at 1.35 miles. The falling water drops over 50 feet in a series of cascades, plummeting to the deep pool below. A wooden viewing platform provides an excellent view of the falls… please avoid further erosion of the waterfall valley and prevent injury by remaining on the viewing platform and marked trail.
When you’ve had your fill of the falls’ beauty, retrace your steps along the meandering side trail, turning right at the High Shoals Falls trail intersection to return to the trailhead. Remember the easy, 500 foot descent to the waterfall on your way in? It’s literally all uphill on the 1.35 mile return to the parking area – but agreeably worth the workout, given the beauty of the two gorgeous waterfalls you just visited.
While you’re in the area, and if you’ve got ample daylight left, take the time to explore several excellent nearby hikes along the Appalachian Trail. The challenging hike on the Appalachian Trail from Unicoi Gap to Indian Grave Gap crossing Rocky Mountain departs Unicoi Gap several miles to the south along GA 75. And the Appalachian Trail hike from Indian Grave Gap to Tray Mountain hikes to stunning mountaintop views, departing Indian Grave Gap / Forest Road 283 several miles South of the High Shoals trailhead.
Getting there: take GA 75 ALT out of Cleveland, Georgia to GA 75 North past Unicoi Gap to Forest Road 283. Forest Road 283 turns sharply to the right off GA 75; be careful as you approach mile marker 2 after passing through Unicoi Gap as the gravel forest road is easy to miss and a very sharp turn. Follow FR 283 1.25 miles to the trailhead on your left after fording a shallow stream.
GPS Coordinates: 34.816129,-83.727107
|find a perfect georgia hiking trail|
local atlanta hiking trails
find a great georgia hiking trail
hiking & backpacking gear guide
georgia hiking trails with waterfalls
appalachian trail hiking in georgia
questions? comments? email us
hiking & camping at panther creek falls
hiking the AT at blood mountain
hiking raven cliff falls
hiking the AT at springer mountain
hiking at amicalola falls state park
hiking at tallulah gorge state park
hiking the arabia mountain trails
hiking the vickery creek trail
hiking stone mountain
hiking kennesaw mountain
hiking sweetwater creek state park
hiking at sope creek